Michael Wollny and Vincent Peirani
There are countless contemporary versions of Barber’s Adagio for Strings, some memorable for the wrong reasons, such as Paul Oakenfold’s awful club mix, and some memorable for –admittedly- inconceivable reasons, Tiesto’s head bashing blasterjaxx remix. William Orbit’s techo take, though aging badly, has its moments.
For purists who seek only the mildest deviation from the introspection of the original as conceived by Samuel Barber, a thousand recordings are alive and still kicking, bookended by the brilliance of conductors Herbert Von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein.
Freshly laid is this original, haunting and imaginative interpretation of Adagio For Strings by Michael Wollny and Vincent Peirani: where the duo is unique is in the refusal to immediately ape the famous pathos and passion of the violently contrasting first movement (Molto allegro e appassionato). I didn’t cop it was the Adagio until the finale.
Wollny on piano and Peirani on accordion show how it is possible, with just two instruments, to replicate Barber’s arch form of composition as scored for an orchestra, and their togetherness belies the fact that they met only four years before the recording of Tandem.
I didn’t think it conceivable to make the Adagio any more hypnotic than it already is, but Wollny and Peirani repeat the magic with songs by contemporaries: Bjork’s Hunter and Sufjan Stevens’ Fourth of July. In tandem, specifically on Adagio for Strings, Wollny and Peirani create an atmospheric pulse as they allow a melody to ascend, and descend.
The ten tracks on Tandem, including four original compositions by Wollny and Peirani, offer a whole gamut of styles and moods, with Peirani absorbing whatever Wollny flings in his direction. Their stylistic palette is such that arrangements reflect either great attention (Adagio for Strings) or spontaneity (Vignette by Gary Peacock).
Their preference for the melodic is instanced by the self-penned Uniskate and Bells, but from Song Yet Untitled to Travesuras, this collaboration has produced a tidal atmosphere sieved by musicianship of the highest order. It could be jazz, but not as you know it.